6 Weeks

Tomorrow little Michael will be 6 weeks old.  Crazy, huh?!  As they all say, where does the time go?  I understand my own parents so much better since being a parent.  I understand why my Mama has small moments of sadness when she reflects on how much life has changed.  It’s just so hard to see your babies grow up to be their own people!  At the same time, I understand the pride and joy in my own parents eyes whenever I or one of my siblings conquers a challenge or achieves success.  It is incredible watching your offspring become their own people.  A paradox?  Yup.  I have no idea how both of those feelings can exist at the same time in relation to the same subject, but they do!

Michael is fat and sweet and cuddly.  He coos and smiles at life when he is awake, as if there was not a care in the world.  He sleeps easily in his own bed (which is a blessing…but is it crazy that I miss him “needing” me to sleep and be at peace???!)  The newborn smell is all but gone, but he still has a soft little head that I love to stroke, and beautiful dark eyes that follow me around the room when he is sitting in his little recliner.  I miss holding him all the time.  It’s not realistic to expect that I can hold him all the time, as I have two other very needy children to care for, but I do wish I could!  He is almost too long for his 0-3 month clothes.  How does this happen??!

Meanwhile, his older brothers have pressed on with life, working through their own growth curves with tremendous energy.  William runs around the house like one possessed – except he does it with the sweetest little attitude, and is generally so absorbed in whatever toy he is playing with that he is good as gold…until Big Brother tries to snatch said toy.  Yes, Big Brother is going through the toy-snatching phase.  William has such a bright personality, it really makes me happy just to look at him, most days!  His one struggle is meal time, and this is where we see the negative side of that intense personality.  He has decided (and persevered in that decision for months now, despite appropriate discipline) that he does not have to eat anything except crackers and milk.  This means that every meal not consisting of said crackers and milk is met with a defiant little, “No!” and a lot of tears.  He has spent much time in his crib crying and saying, “No”.  It is sad.  I hope that he soon realizes how much happier life can be if he just takes the food he is given and moves on.  The crazy thing is, once he accepts that first, horrible bite, he usually LOVES his meal and eats the rest with relish!

Lil J is my challenge right now.  The only thing worse than seeing your poor two year old struggling with a serious case of sin nature is to see them in pain.  He is so curious and precious on the one hand, experimenting, watching out for Will, trying to help Mama and showing Michael how to play with his toy airplane, and so defiant and contrary on the other, snatching toys from his brother, screaming, whining and being downright contrary.  I realize I expect a lot from him, and that may contribute to the problem….perhaps I demand a lot and don’t reward enough?  Perhaps this is partly the need for affirmation and positive attention, not just another “no”?  He is the kid who will hold on to the grocery cart and walk beside me through the whole store with barely an infraction, who will get his brother’s blankie for him in a sad moment and stop to say, “Know what?  Wuv you!”  But some days I feel like the only thing I do is tell him “no” and discipline him.  Sigh…. need wisdom!

Altogether, being Mama of three is challenging, but rewarding.   And necessary.  My Selfishness needed this! 🙂

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Announcing…

The presence of Michael Dean Hobble 🙂  He arrived March 20 (the first day of spring, incidentally) at 3:24 p.m. after an intense, brief and super convenient labor (details to follow, for those interested).  At 7 lb. 7 oz, and 20 1/2 inches long he is my biggest baby so far, but he is still so little and cute that he doesn’t seem big at all.  He is super sweet-natured, and we are very  in love with him (obviously…how do you not love that newborn sweetness???  Especially when you can finally breathe again, thanks to the deflated belly!)!

His birth was really perfect, although not without it’s challenges.  We had an appointment that morning at 12:30, 5 days past his due date.  I was having contractions exactly like I had been experiencing for weeks – some of them uncomfortable, some not – and we hung out in the midwife’s office joking about how we “hoped” he would come that weekend, but agreed that wasn’t likely because I felt so good.  When I left, I said something like, “Hope we can give you a phone call soon!”

On our way home, Jordan and I discussed the possibility of dropping the boys off at their Nana’s house and going on a random “date” to a mattress store.  While in the middle of a sentence (and going over an extremely bumpy section of road), I had one of those uncomfortable contractions, and interrupted myself to say, “Oh, hang on a minute, wait till this is over.”  “Is it a contraction???”  “Yeah,” I said, “It’s not a big deal, tho.”  “Have you had more than one?”  “Yeah, I’ve had them all morning.”  When the contraction was over, we resumed our conversation, only this time Jordan wasn’t listening to me.  He was scrolling through the contacts on his phone, and the next thing I knew, he was talking to someone who sounded suspiciously like the midwife, Ms Michaels.  “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”  I whisper-yelled, “THIS ISN’T LABOR!!!”   He kindly ignored me until he was off the phone, and then said, “Well, it might be.  At least she can come and tell us if this the real deal or not.”  I’ll be honest.  I was a little upset.  “I’ve felt this way before,” I argued.  “And you are five days late,” he replied, “Odds are, this is it.”  “I’m going to be that woman who cries wolf too,” I complained, but decided that I might as well accept it, since he had already made The Phone Call.  I sat and stewed over this as he called my mother and his boss and all the necessary people who needed to know that he was going to be busy that afternoon.  “Please,” I begged, “Don’t tell your mom that this might be it.  I don’t want her to get her hopes up for nothing.”  So he agreed that we would stick to our plan of having Nana babysit so that we could “go on a date”.

Since we were both starving, we picked up some Godfather’s Pizza on our way home, then Jordan dropped me off at the house and took the kids.  I was still having contractions, but only about every other one was even uncomfortable.  The rest were easy-peasy.  “Well,” I thought, “If I’m going to have all these people in my house, it will at least be clean.”  And so I began cleaning.  Sweeping the floor.  Putting away dishes.  I texted my mom not to get her hopes up since these contractions weren’t really regular at all.  “Yours never are,” she texted back.  True.

Keely, and assistant, showed up.  I was so embarrassed.  I stood awkwardly in our living room making small talk through the contractions and feeling like an idiot because she rushed to our house only to find me non-laboring.  Ms. Michaels and her other assistant, Tamhra also showed  up very quickly, as my previous labors had been fairly quick.  I could feel them  all watching me, and so I went back to the kitchen to finish putting away dishes.  “I want to do something,” I told Jordan, when we were alone for a few minutes, “I feel so silly.  I want to bake a cake, just to pass the time.”  He thought I was crazy.  “You’re going to have a baby in a couple hours!” he argued, but when we consulted the midwife, she agreed that I could bake a cake if I felt up to it.  So Jordan and I got out the ingredients and began baking a cake.  Somewhere between the beginning of the recipe and the end those contractions picked up to the point that I had to stop and breathe through them, and by the time I put the cake in the oven, I was ready to go upstairs and focus on this “labor”, such as it was.

After a couple of contractions maybe two minutes apart, with me kneeling in front of my bed and having Jordan push on my back, he got nervous and went to get the midwife.  Of course, once she got up there I didn’t have another one for almost ten minutes, and then had three back to back.  For some reason, my whole labor was like that.  She seemed surprised at the progress and she and the assistants disappeared to set things up.  Jordan talked me into going downstairs where the tub was, so that when things “got bad” I wouldn’t have far to walk to reach it.

This was a good idea, because things “got bad” fairly quickly.  I was told I could get into the tub whenever I wanted, and mentally I thought I would wait for some bloody show or water breaking but suddenly the contractions were so intense (when they came…they were still pretty sporadic) that I decided I might as well try the water.  Just as before, it helped, but not really as much as I had wanted.  I could feel the baby moving with each contraction, and knew that although he had been posterier just 2 hours before, he was definitely facing the right way now.  Although the contractions were demanding all I had, between them I was weirdly aware and perky.

And then, suddenly, they were awful.  I clutched Jordan tight and rubbed my head back and forth against him, while moving around in the water, desperate to find the ‘right’ position.  I could literally feel the baby moving down.  “It’s just so much pressure,” I complained.  Jordan said, “Yeah,” and I looked at him like he was crazy.  “You say that like you know,” I said.  “Well…what else am I supposed to say?” he joked.  And suddenly, with the next contraction, my body was pushing so hard I could barely breathe.  I yelled and tried to pant/blow like they tell you to in the books, but nothing stopped it.  Ms. Michaels tried very hard to help me breathe it out, but I couldn’t get on top of it.  “Just breathe,” she said, “Your baby is right there.”  A moment’s break.  Then another contraction and I knew baby would be born with it.  Let me just say that pushing a baby out in only two contractions does NOT feel good.  I have had several people ask if it hurt and I don’t really know how to reply to that question without a little bit of sarcasm.  Yes.  It hurt.  I think that’s why 80% of American women get epidurals!  It was mind-blowingly painful for a moment, and then his head was out, and I was pushing his body out, and the Midwife was saying, “Wait, there’s a cord”.  She stopped him while halfway out, tore his bag – which had not broken on it’s own – and flipped him through the cord.  I just looked around and said, “Did I just have a baby?  Really???”

It is amazing how quickly the pain fades.  When I held little Michael and saw his face for the first time and knew that he was here, it was over, he was mine….none of the pain mattered.  He is so worth it all!

40 weeks

I’ll be honest… this was a number I was hoping not to see: 40.  After having William 8 days early, I kind of fooled myself into believing (despite the absence of physical signs) that this little one would be early too.

But, on the bright side, I have experienced such a healthy, relatively comfortable pregnancy that these last few days of waiting have only been as miserable as I let my mind make them.  The old trick of balancing all the emotions that come with waiting, anticipating, hoping, and yet being content all at the same time…this is hard to do, as every pregnant woman in the history of pregnancy has discovered, I am sure!  I wake up every morning feeling completely normal and yet obsessed with the idea that “if” today was The Big Day, then everything has to be ready, all the while assuring myself that today is NOT, in fact, The Day.  But one of these mornings???  Yes, one of these days will be Michael’s birthday.

We have suddenly experienced a rush of beautiful weather, and also had Grandma visiting for a few days, so this week has been an awesome fun time with my little men.  They are growing and changing into their own little people so quickly that it almost makes me sad, and also frightens me a little.  The older they get, the less time I have to teach them to be godly.

My Lil’ J – 2 1/2 years old – is potty training, and maintaining a running commentary on everything, from toilet issues to whether or not aardvarks bite you and if you can, in fact, shoot them.  He is definitely NOT a terrible two year old, but I find myself losing patience with him for really absurd reasons, and then apologizing.  After all, this whole life thing is new to him, and why should I get irritated because he spends 15 minutes of my “valuable” time struggling to put on his own underwear, when I could have done it in 15 seconds?!  He is constantly seeking verbal affirmation of whatever he is doing, or expressing curiosity in what I am doing.  It is really precious to hear his constant talk, especially when he calls excitedly from his bedroom, “M’ere Mommy!” just because he wants me to see his latest Lego creation!  He is rarely mean to his little brother, and on those occasions, it is almost always when I am unusually distracted or tired and have been ignoring all the warning signs of up-coming bad behavior.  Often he is seeing, “Here, Will” and handing him a toy or his blankie, just to be nice.  I love his tender heart in this respect!

William, in the mean time, has become a super easy kid, spending the majority of his day in his own little world (which always exists right next to Mama), exploring with objects, words, motions, everything he sees around him.  He is an intense little sponge, and likes to be ‘involved’ with whatever we are doing (which actually means, just being next to us while we do it).  He imitates Lil’ J especially, and cannot bear to be left out, even when it comes to discipline.  Most of his antics are so adorable that it’s hard to take the naughty ones seriously!

I am so excited to see how these two little men adjust to being big brothers.  William is pretty clueless about what is coming, but Lil’ J talks a lot about “baby Michael” (although I am sure he is also clueless to a large extent).  He loves to go to midwife appointments and “hear the heartbeat”, and look at the clothes and such that we have ready for the new arrival.

I am also very excited to see how Michael is different from the two we already have.  Each child is so delightfully unique and it is really one of my biggest joys watching my children grow and learn and interact.  It is one of the best things about a large family.

Well, I hope the next time I write on this blog it will be to announce the arrival of our third son!  And if not….I will probably write something dramatic and sad 🙂

Working on That Word

Waiting.  Still.  Struggling to be content with the present.

I have always been tempted to day dream about the future.  I tell myself, “I just want to be prepared” and so I visualize situations and circumstances that haven’t happened yet.  I have been in this particular place of waiting three times now: the pre-baby anticipation.

I love this time, I really do!  If I can maintain a good attitude and not worry too much about what the next day might hold, this is a great time of life.  The calm before the storm, so to speak – except, in this case, I really, really want the storm to come.  I know better than ever before how sweet the after-storm is, when there is a new baby, all the elation that comes with holding him, smelling him, nursing him, learning him.  These pre-Michael days are AWESOME, because I have a wonderful husband and two sweet little sons who fill my days with excitement, fun, purpose and joy.  AND, I know from experience how little time I will have to focus on them soon.

BUT.  I also struggle with the anticipation, wondering, imagining…. what will he be like?  What will the birth be like?  Will it be quick and easy?  Will there be some unusual struggle I will have to go through?  What will I learn?  How will handle labor and birth this time?  Will it be expected?  Surprising?  In the middle of the night, or during the day?  Will my husband have to rush home from work, or my water break while I’m at the store?  Will it be early (as in, tomorrow, haha?) or late…another 4 weeks?  I play out all kinds of scenarios in my mind, and then realize…it doesn’t matter.  God knows, He is in control.  I can never be prepared for everything.  I need to be content for now.  So that I can be content then.

Pregnancy Funny

So, I am drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea daily in hopes that this up-coming labor is somehow, magically, easier and less painful than my previous two (not that they were all that bad, as far as labor goes, but there is always room for improvement when pain is involved).  I am supposed to drink three cups a day, but in spite of the fact that I am almost constantly sipping at it, I typically down maybe a cup and a half.  For this reason, I take it with me wherever I go.  I pour it into my coffee travel mug and pretend that doing so will help me consume more of the beverage than I otherwise would.

Today, I took my tea on an outing with my husband.  He had no idea.

(Brief detour: Jordan has a phobia of all things pregnancy.  He shudders at the thought of prenatal appointments, walks out of the room if the midwife should happen to mention the word “uterus” and refuses to revisit the details of the birth of our first two children.  It just freaks him out.  End of detour)

So, there we were, enjoying a quiet moment together when Jordan grabbed my coffee cup and took a big old swig, doubtless expecting coffee.  The look on his face when his mouth was filled with some cold, sweetened herbal mixture instead, was priceless.  His mouth full of liquid, he gestured wildly to me, as if to inquire, “What in the world is that??!”  I said, “Oh, that’s my pregnancy tea!”  And that priceless look?  Got so much more priceless.  As he sprinted toward the bathroom, silently heaving.  And flushed the toilet a minute later.  And rinsed his mouth out several times.  I hate to admit it, but I was dying laughing.  “JOANNA!”  “What?  You never asked!”

There are moments of pregnancy that are no fun, that are difficult, uncomfortable and plain hard work.  And then there are those times when your husband drinks your herbal tea and you get to sit there and laugh.  Possibly my favorite funny moment of all time!  Of course, there was the time a Church lady asked him how much my cervix was dilated…..

February’s Word

I hate waiting.  Well, hate may be a strong term, but it’s pretty close to the truth.  I am sure I’m not alone in this sentiment.  Waiting is part of life we all dislike to some degree, but it is a necessity that pops up everywhere.  Waiting….to be old enough to play outside by myself, to do my own hair, to find a best friend, to get married, to have children, to have more money, or a bigger house…..the list goes on.  We wait for so many things in life, and often – at least in my case! – with not the best of attitudes.  But waiting is actually a precious time.  Especially when you are waiting for a sweet little one to arrive, while surrounded by two other sweet little ones who are about to learn and adopt new roles 🙂

So, my word for the month is:  Content.  I thought about maybe using the word “patience” but I want to do more than just wait.  I want to be content. at peace, fully accepting of the moment I am in, whether that moment by one of cuddles and story time, or one of pregnancy discomforts combined with fussy sick littles and an approaching lunch time dead line.

I’ll be honest, I do struggle with being content.  This strikes me as odd, since I have SO MUCH in my life that makes me happy, and so few complaints.  But, I am the kind of person who craves perfection, and I have a hard time appreciating the process.  I want my dishes clean, my cupboards organized, my laundry folded, my toddler spotless, my schedule on the dot, my hair brushed and looking good.  I get impatient when we eat and…wow, there are so many dirty dishes.  They irritate me.  I can’t rest until they’re done.  Laundry day?  It is stressful because…there are three baskets of unfolded laundry sitting in my living room. Thanks to toddlers, I am learning to relax, and realize that perfection in housework/scheduling only lasts a precious few seconds, but the bulk of life is made up of tackling those dirty dishes and laundry piles, and that I will never have inner peace without learning to enjoy the process, not just the destination.

I hope to never reach a point where I accept dirt and mayhem and don’t try to fix it.  But I do hope to reach the point where I can laugh at the mess, while digging in, and not feel irritated if my efforts are interrupted half way.

Pregnancy the Third Time

It’s funny to me how I write blog posts – more like a diary, really, and I have so little time in which to write and post (insert “no internet at the house” story) that I literally sit down, type and click publish.  I never proof-read, or really ponder as I am typing, although most of what I say has been mulled over in my mind for many days.  It just seems such a strange way to write a blog!

So, this time, as I am sitting here with a heater at my feet, watching the clock and two little boys who are semi-satisfied with a random Great Clips coupon they found, I am full of thoughts about this pregnancy, this baby.  Little Michael.  I am growing so excited to meet him!  It’s crazy how time has flown, and yet we seem to drag at this stage.  Every week I reach the end and think, “8 weeks left???  Seriously?!  How can this take so long!”  I knew from previous experience that the last couple of months tends to be tedious this way and so I deliberately put all thoughts of baby and baby-prep on the back burner until I was well into the third trimester.  I didn’t look at baby books.  I didn’t document pregnancy symptoms.  I didn’t pay attention to how my changing body felt, or sort through baby clothes, or make plans to ease the postpartum/new family experiences, and yet…. Here I sit.  34 weeks pregnant.  6 long weeks to go.  I gave myself permission to work on and think of baby stuff just a short two weeks ago and you know what?  It’s all done.  Baby clothes are cleaned and sorted all the way through the coming summer months.  Baby ‘stations’ are set up around the house.  Towels and sheets and diapers and postpartum supplies for our anticipated home birth are ready and waiting, and I have read the baby books all the way from conception to baby’s six week check-up.  I feel SO READY  to meet our little Michael!

I learned some things from our other babies.  Lil J taught me confidence as a Mama.  He was sweet, and smooth, and let me make mistakes, and it was really peaceful.  William?  Taught me humility.  He was challenging, and unpredictable, and needy and taught me that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to baby problems, and that raising a baby is almost more about raising a Mama than anything else.  This time around, I hope to greet Michael with low expectations and a lot of grace.  I hope to just enjoy who he is, and not worry or fret if he doesn’t fit the mold I had imagined.

God has been kind to me in giving me an amazingly comfortable pregnancy (even with morning sickness it has been easier than last time!).  I even feel…I don’t know, confident, maybe? about the up-coming birth.  I’ve done it twice and so a third time, while it looms big in my future, doesn’t fill me with the same fear and self-doubt that I experienced previously.  I know it will be hard, it will hurt, I will question my sanity, but I also know that God is bigger, that He will see me through, that it is over so quickly and it is so worth it, and that the biggest struggle is not the pain but the fear and the fear is something I can give to God.

So, I am waiting in our little nest.  Preparing the last freezer meals this week.  Shopping ahead (why do I always have a frantic need to stock up on toilet paper when I reach this phase of pregnancy?)  Enjoying the easy days of just two little ones.  Smiling at all the comments about how “small”  I look, and how “it’s all baby!” – because I know I only look small because he’s sitting so low, and I further know that I am not carrying a baby in my thighs, therefore….all that extra weight is NOT baby. 🙂

Marriage With Kids

It cracks me up how different my relationship with Jordan has become since our kids made their entrance into the world.  You know that you are married with kids when your idea of a date is dropping the kids off at Grandma’s, grabbing a pizza and going home to sit on your couch (and probably take a nap)!  Or, better yet, you go grocery shopping together – because that is SO much easier minus little ones!  You know you are parents when you pull into your driveway and deliberately let the van idle for 30 minutes, because you know that as soon as you turn off the engine and open the door, the marathon begins (the car seat un-buckling, kid-carrying, diaper bag, milk cup and blankie grabbing, complete with at least one moment of discipline), and you just don’t have the energy.

The cool thing is, children really do make your marriage better, stronger, more fun.  You go from being a care-free pair of kids gallivanting through life to a well-practiced team, and there is great fulfillment in working together.  Snuggling on the couch, watching your boys play in their funny toddler way, and knowing that the two of you are in this together and that you are succeeding…it’s a great feeling!  Not to mention the closeness you must have developed to be able to read one another’s minds – like when Child A is having a melt down, but you are in the middle of a diaper change with Child B, and you give “the signal” to your spouse with a single raised eyebrow and your spouse understands that Child A is in need of a spanking, a cup of milk and a clean shirt, in that order.  It’s amazing.

It’s true that it is not so easy to be spontaneous once you have little ones.  It’s also true that you no longer want to be going, going, going like you did when it was just the two of you, partly because you no longer have the energy, but also because your house just feels like home.  You actually enjoy just hanging out in your own four walls.  The entertainment is already there, and so much more exciting than a movie, or a trip – you have a two year old, and therefore, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

I do feel that we have become pretty well adapted to two children.  It’s kind of scary.  Cause we are about to be launched into the three-child territory, and our perfect little routine is going to be blown to smithereens.  I’m sure we need it, though.  There’s nothing like a new baby for a little spiritual “growth spurt”, and what would we do without growth?!